Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
Related to lacks: blacks, slacks


does not have something that is needed: The safe lacks a lock.
Not to be confused with:
lax – loose or slack; not firm; not strict; negligent: lax in enforcing the rules
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


1. Deficiency or absence: Lack of funding brought the project to a halt.
2. A particular deficiency or absence: Owing to a lack of supporters, the reforms did not succeed.
v. lacked, lack·ing, lacks
To be without or in need of: lacked the strength to lift the box.
1. To be missing or deficient: We suspected that he was lying, but proof was lacking.
2. To be in need of something: She does not lack for friends.

[Middle English, perhaps from Middle Dutch lac, deficiency, fault.]
Usage Note: When lack is used in the sense "to be wanting or deficient," it is typically followed by in: You will not be lacking in support from me. When lack is used in the sense of "to be in need of something," it is often followed by for: "In the terrible, beautiful age of my prime, / I lacked for sweet linen but never for time" (E.B. White).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.
Indeed, verses are the only thing that your letter lacks, Makar Alexievitch.
It is strong, compact, and sometimes powerful, but it entirely lacks imaginative poetic beauty--it is really only rhythmical prose, though sometimes suffused with passion.
"Lack of evidence to convict," replied the accused.
To Konstantin the peasant was simply the chief partner in their common labor, and in spite of all the respect and the love, almost like that of kinship, he had for the peasant-- sucked in probably, as he said himself, with the milk of his peasant nurse--still as a fellow-worker with him, while sometimes enthusiastic over the vigor, gentleness, and justice of these men, he was very often, when their common labors called for other qualities, exasperated with the peasant for his carelessness, lack of method, drunkenness, and lying.
As my heart had warned me at the beginning, "she was hoping too much from life to spend one's days with." She lacked the subtle half-tones of experience.
Its windows are without glass, its doorways without doors; there are wide breaches in the shingle roof, and for lack of paint the weatherboarding is a dun gray.
In the ancient and populous county of Hampshire there was no lack of leaders or of soldiers for a service which promised either honor or profit.
Yes, she married Manton, but I don't know about his liberality; I'm not sure but he cut her throat because he discovered that she lacked that excellent thing in woman, the middle toe of the right foot."
So numb was Jerry from lack of circulation, and so weak from lack of water through part of a tropic day and all of a tropic night, that he stood up, tottered and fell, and, time and again, essaying to stand, floundered and fell.
But it was not that which hurt so much as what she took to be his lack of pride and self-respect.
The father embraced them both, and bestowing his kisses and affection impartially on each, said, "I wish you both would look into the mirror every day: you, my son, that you may not spoil your beauty by evil conduct; and you, my daughter, that you may make up for your lack of beauty by your virtues."